There are sometimes great and glorious objects to be attained—objects which elevate and ennoble a nation or a race—which warrant the expenditure of almost any amount of temporary suffering. It is not the duty of the millions to suffer the proud and haughty hundreds to consign them to ignorance and trample them in the dust. In this wicked world, where kings and nobles have ever been so ready to doom the masses of the people to ignorance, servitude, and want, human rights have almost never made any advances but through the energies of the sword. Many illustrious generals, who, with saddened hearts, have led their armies over fields of blood, have been among the most devoted friends and ornaments of humanity. Their names have been enshrined in the affections of grateful millions.90
The king then questioned him very closely respecting the place where he had studied, during what years, under what teachers, and to what branches he had devoted special attention. While thus conversing the clock struck twelve. This was the dinner-hour of his majesty. “Now I must go,” said the king. “They wait for their soup.”BATTLE OF HOHENFRIEDBERG, JUNE 4, 1745.
A large portion of the train was utterly destroyed. The remainder was driven back to Troppau. The disaster was irreparable. The tidings were conveyed to Frederick the next day, July 1. They must have fallen upon him with crushing weight. It was the annihilation of all his hopes for the campaign, and454 rendered it necessary immediately to raise the siege and retreat. This extraordinary man did not allow himself to manifest the slightest despondency. He assembled his officers, and, with a smiling face, and hopeful, cheering words, announced his decision.“Old Leopold, quick as thought, noticing the thing, hurls cavalry on these victorious, down-plunging grenadiers; slashes them asunder into mere recoiling whirlpools of ruin, so that few of them got back unwounded; and the Prussians, storming in along with them, aided by ever new Prussians, the place was at length carried.”91
“When godless fellows about you speak against your duties to God, the king, and your country, fall instantly on your knees and pray with your whole soul to Jesus Christ to deliver you from such wickedness, and lead you on better ways. And if it come in earnest from your heart, Jesus, who would have all men saved, will not leave you unheard.”“Our grand care,” said he, “will be to further the country’s well-being, and to make every one of our subjects contented and happy. If it ever chance that my particular interest and the190 general good of my country should seem to conflict, it is my wish that the latter should always be preferred.”
Frederick, leaving his army safe for a short time, quartered, as he supposed, for the winter, in his strong fortresses of Silesia, returned hastily to Berlin. It was necessary for him to make immediate preparation for another campaign. “From December 13, 1744,” writes Carlyle, “when he hastened home to Berlin, under such aspects, to June 4, 1745, when aspects suddenly changed, are probably the worst six months Frederick had yet had in the world.”77430 Frederick reached Leipsic on the 26th of October. The allied forces were rapidly concentrating in overwhelming numbers around him. On the 30th the king marched to the vicinity of Lutzen, where he encamped for the night. General Soubise, though in command of a force outnumbering that of the Prussians nearly three to one, retreated rapidly to the west before Frederick, and crossed the River Saale. Frederick followed, and effected the passage of the stream with but little opposition.
It was an outrage to which Frederick was not disposed to submit. He entered his remonstrances. The question was referred to the British Court of Admiralty. Month after month the decision was delayed. Frederick lost all patience. English capitalists held Silesian bonds to the amount of about one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.The friendship of these two remarkable men must have been of a singular character. Voltaire thus maliciously wrote of the king:Voltaire, being safe out of Prussia, in the territory of the King of Poland, instead of hastening to Plombières, tarried in Dresden, and then in Leipsic. From those places he began shooting, through magazines, newspapers, and various other instrumentalities, his poisoned darts at M. Maupertuis. Though these malignant assaults, rapidly following each other, were anonymous, no one could doubt their authorship. M. Maupertuis, exasperated, wrote to him from Berlin on the 7th of April:
“We can not afford the least narrative of G?rtz and his courses: imagination, from a few traits, will sufficiently conceive them. He had gone first to Karl Theodor’s minister: ‘Dead to it, I fear; has already signed?’ Alas! yes. Upon which to Zweibrück, the heir’s minister, whom his master had distinctly ordered to sign,554 but who, at his own peril, gallant man, delayed, remonstrated, had not yet done it; and was able to answer:
Such was the Tobacco Parliament in its trivial aspects. But it had also its serious functions. Many questions were discussed there which stirred men’s souls, and which roused the ambition or the wrath of the stern old king to the utmost pitch.“Madam,—I am much obliged by the wishes you deign to form; but a heavy fever I have taken hinders me from answering you.”“I have passed my winter like a Carthusian monk. I dine alone. I spend my life in reading and writing, and I do not sup. When one is sad, it becomes, at last, too burdensome to hide one’s grief continually. It is better to give way to it than to carry one’s gloom into society. Nothing solaces me but the vigorous application required in steady and continuous labor. This distraction does force one to put away painful ideas while it lasts. But alas! no sooner is the work done than these fatal companions present themselves again, as if livelier than ever. Maupertuis was right; the sum of evil does certainly surpass that of good. But to me it is all one. I have almost nothing more to lose; and my few remaining days—what matters it much of what complexion they be?
There was nothing left for his Prussian majesty but to abandon Silesia, and retire within his own original borders, defeated and humiliated, the object of the contempt and ridicule of Europe, or to press forward in the conflict, summoning to his aid all the energies of despair.
“Monsieur De Maupertuis, your very affectionateOn the 12th of June, but a fortnight after his accession, Frederick198 wrote from Charlottenburg to Voltaire, who was then at Brussels, as follows:68详情
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